Nancy Haberland of Annapolis, Md., won a tough first day of the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship, which saw 61 J/22 teams battle it out over three races on Chesapeake Bay.
It was a drama-packed day, with 16-20 knots chopping up the Bay into a vicious washing machine. Defending champion Pat Connerney of Middletown, R.I. made life hard for herself by crossing the starting line early in the first race and having to return to restart. "It wasn't really the way I would have liked to begin this regatta, but when the fleet is this tough you have to be pushing the starts," said Connerney. "We were about 60th round the first mark but we pulled up to 10th so I'm pretty happy." She went on to score a third and a first, and currently lies in fourth place overall.
Rochester, N.Y.'s Cory Sertl, with 2000 Olympic Silver Medallist Pease Glaser as one of her three crew, hasn't won a race yet, but with a 2-6-2 scoreline she lies in second place just one point behind Haberland. "We got T-boned by a boat on port tack soon after the first start, so we were forced out to the right to find clear air," said Glaser. "But it worked out okay for us and we pulled up to second in that race."
The Bermudan team skippered by Paula Lewin is new to the J/22 and not all that familiar with fleet racing. Her expertise is the one-on-one intensity of match racing, but she appeared to make the transition to big fleet racing with remarkable ease. "We're more than happy with where we are right now," she said, after scoring a 4-2-9 today. Her second place in the second race was punctuated by an incident where she jibed too soon for her foredeck crew Leatrice Roman, who fell overboard. "I'm so used to Leatrice being able to respond to any situation that I throw at her, that I was surprised when she didn't come through that one, but at least she didn't let go and got back onboard quickly."
Five-time winning skipper of this event, Newport, R.I.'s Betsy Alison, this time is calling tactics for Californian Deneen Demourkas (Santa Barbara), who normally helms a Farr 40. This team, too, suffered a woman overboard in the rough, tough conditions, but Alison said they were coming in pretty much where they expected to. "We're new to each other so we're still working things out," she said. The team currently lies in 12th place and will have to step up a gear if they are to threaten the current front runners.
The Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship continues tomorrow with two scheduled races and concludes Friday. Daily reports and photos are posted at www.ussailing.org. A link with the Annapolis Yacht Club web site (annapolisyc.org/rolexkeelboats) will take viewers to more regatta info, including live mark rounding positions and individual race finishes as they occur.
Results, after 3 races:
1 USA Nancy Haberland 1 4 4 9.0 pts
2 USA Cory Sertl 2 6 2 10.0 pts
3 USA Carol Cronin 5 1 5 11.0 pts
4 USA Patricia Connerney 10 3 1 14.0 pts
5 USA Paula Lewin 4 2 9 15.0 pts
6 USA Courtenay Becker Dey 7 5 3 15.0 pts
7 USA Jody Swanson 3 7 7 17.0 pts
8 USA Margaret Podlich 6 8 17 31.0 pts
9 USA Missy Ferdinandi 8 9 23 40.0 pts
10 USA Kaya Haig 18 14 11 43.0 pts